Need for developing
good food habits
The preschool years are ones that create a number of concerns about food
intake. Nearly two out of three preschool children in India are malnourished.
The different household factors affecting the child's nutrition are
The economic status which determines the food
available and thus the energy density of food.
2. The mother's experience and knowledge which influences the food
preparation and food intake by the child.
Demand on mother's time to prepare the food
Poor sanitation and water supply
Poor living conditions
Contamination of food leading to infectious
Parental influence in showing dislike for a
These factors in turn affect the food intake leading to severe
malnutrition and this has a profound impact on the growth and performance
during later years.
In addition to these the preschoolers may show certain likes and dislikes
which when not properly interpreted may lead to undernutrition. They may show
interest in certain foods that may last from few months to few years. Food
preferences may change from time to time. Also certain foods are liked by them
only when cooked in a particular way.
Appetite is also erratic, with the result that the child may eat one
meal well refusing the next. So there must be no hurrying at meal times, the
atmosphere should be pleasant, peaceful and lacking distraction.
There should be regularity of meal times. The child should be taught to
eat everything on his plate.
Proper evacuation of faeces shall be maintained by daily diet of fruits,
vegetables and whole grains. They prefer simple unmixed dishes that are neither
too cold nor too hot. Familiar foods are better liked and hence new foods
should be given in small portions along with well accepted ones.
A balance should be maintained between hard and soft foods. Colourful
foods add variety and stimulate interest. Finger foods such as cutlets, hard
boiled eggs, small sandwiches, rolls and whole fruits are handy.
At the table, physical comfort while sitting, unbreakable bowls and
cutlery with blunt edges will help the child in his/her efforts to feed
Hence it is essential that good food habits are inculcated during
childhood considering their food preferences.